Skiing down steep lines contrasted against a sea of rolling blue hills makes The Western Faces is a must for any ski tourer in Australia.


We acknowledge that this adventure is located on the traditional Country of the Ngarigo people who have occupied and cared for the lands, waters, and their inhabitants for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them as the Traditional Custodians and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.

About The Western Faces

For six months of the year, the slopes of Mount Kosciuszko and the other peaks of the Main Range are covered in snow.

They’re known as The Western Faces and hold arguably the best steep skiing in Australia. Many dream of skiing these lines, and those that do, know about the fitness needed, the gear required, and the effort involved.


The best steep skiing in Australia is on the western slopes of Kosciuszko

Western Faces History

The Main Range has long been visited by the Ngarigo people for thousands of years. The Kosciuszko National Park was first put forward in 1967 and is NSW’s largest national park despite the Australian alpine and subalpine only making up 0.01 per cent of the continent.

Skiing off The Western Faces has been happening since the 1920s, with even the steeper Sentinel skied in the early 1950s.

How to Get to The Western Faces

The Western Faces are located in Kosciuszko National Park on the Main Range. They’re accessible via multiple roads that lead south from Jindabyne.

Charlotte Pass is a 40 minute drive from Jindabyne and leads you as close to The Western Faces as you can get.

During winter, the road from Perisher to Charlotte Pass is closed but after the resorts close and the snow is cleared, the road opens again, allowing quicker access than the usual trail heads of Thredbo or Guthega.

Places to Stay on The Western Faces

What better way to explore The Western Faces than by camping out and experiencing all its elements? For our trip we decided to head to Carruthers Peak, a peak in the middle section of The Western Faces, providing easy access to skiing spots like Club Lake, Blue Lake, Little Austria, and The Sentinel.


Staying the night on the shoulders of giants


Please note! Camping is permitted most places on The Main Range / The Western Faces, with the exception of within the glacial catchments of Club, Blue, Albina, and Cootapatamba Lakes and also within 200 metres of the Snowy River.

Read more: Beginner’s Guide to Snow Camping

Ensure when you’re camping to be aware of forecasted wind directions, cornices, and overly exposed campsites. Do your best to dig your tent into the mountain and create a snow wall to shield you from forecasted winds. Also make sure you practise the leave no trace principles which includes packing out your own personal waste.

Read more: Need to Know Before You go Backcountry Camping

Skill Level


Skiing The Western Faces should only be attempted by experienced backcountry enthusiasts with a strong skiing and boarding foundation, who are fully prepared for inclement weather, ice, and navigating in whiteouts.


Cutting up powder makes the effort worth it


More intermediate ski tours in Kosciuszko National Park are located at the Guthega and Dead Horse Gap trailheads, as well as close by the ski resorts.

Build your skill levels by experiencing smaller tours and camping adventures then slowly venturing further out with experienced friends or with backcountry guides such as Snowy Mountains Backcountry.

Don’t forget to fill out a Trip Intention Form before heading out!

Distance / Duration / Elevation Gain

6km / 3 hours / 400m one way from Charlotte Pass to the campsite

Allow for more or less time depending on your pack size and fitness levels. Once you’re out there you can ski as much or as little as you’d like.

Days of 2000m vertical gain and distances of 20km are not uncommon and will see you ski many of the peaks in the region. Our return trip saw us ski the 6km back down to the Snowy River.

Read more: How To Poo in The Bush

Essential Gear for The Western Faces

What it’s Like to Ski The Western Faces?

My partner Savannah and I’s schedule finally lined up for an overnight ski tour, sweetened by the possibility of sunshine in the forecast.

We spent Friday night prepping food and getting our gear together. With equipment sprawled all over the floor at home I was beginning to worry about carrying it all, but there was no problem fitting it into the 70L Mont Escape backpack. With everything ready, I went to bed dreaming about the steep endless lines of The Western Faces.

Day 1 – Charlotte Pass to Carruthers Peak

Distance: 6km (hiking to the campsite)
Duration: 3 hours

Saturday arrived and we headed up to Charlotte Pass. With our packs ready and our skis strapped to the side, we started down the Main Range, walking towards our first obstacle; crossing the Snowy River. At this river crossing, there’s no bridge but rather a set of stepping stones to walk across.

In summer and autumn these stones are easy to cross, but come spring, the water rises above them due to a combination of snowmelt and rain. Over the years I’ve seen a variety of footwear options used for this crossing, from barefoot to wetsuit booties, but my preferred tool is a pair of gumboots.

I crossed first with my gumboots, turning around halfway to snap some pictures. Savannah rolled up her pants and began crossing barefoot.

Upon reaching the fourth or fifth rock, the unthinkable happened – one of her ski boots dislodged from the binding on the side of her pack and floated downstream.

After a few seconds of shock and panic, she ditched her pack and chased after the few hundred dollars floating down the river. With the boot back in hand, she made her way across the other side.


The gear was worth the chase!


As the pain of knowing she’d have to put on a wet boot sunk in, a few lessons were learnt by both of us – a small microfibre towel works wonders to dry your cold feet, the Mont Supersonic Overpants and Jacket stay dry even after going for a swim, and yes I’m still surprised that ski boots float.

After an exciting river crossing, the good news was that we could begin skinning and started towards Carruthers Peak. While earlier in the week there’d been calls of sunshine, the forecast had shifted and we were now looking at a band of thick fog and moderate winds.

Halfway up we entered the fog and I could start to feel the moisture on my face but the Mont Supersonic Jacket beaded the moisture straight off and protected us from the growing winds that we hoped would push the fog away.

Using a GPS we pushed on and reached the summit of Carruthers but were greeted with zero views as we were still in the clouds.


Navigating through a whiteout


We ripped our skins off and started slowly making our way across and down the west spur of Carruthers to our planned camp spot. As we dropped lower in elevation, we began to come below the clouds and the majesty of The Western Faces revealed itself.

We found our preferred camp spot, perched atop the ridgeline, which was in close proximity to many of the classic ski runs of the area while providing stunning views.

Being atop a ridgeline isn’t my normal go to spot for camping, but I felt confident that the Mont Epoch tent could handle all conditions and I was ready to put it to the test.

We set up the Epoch and revelled in its spacious interior as we waited for the clouds to pass.

Reading maps and staying warm

After one or two trivia podcasts, I snuck my head out of the spacious vestibule to reveal the ending of the fog and go time for skiing.

We decided to ski the north face of Carruthers, then hop back over and down into Little Austria. The perks of camping in this central location were on full display as we were able to ski what felt like the ends of the Earth and deep into the heart of the rugged landscape.

Our run started as an alpine wonderland up top and finished surrounded by the many colours of Royal grevillea, Candle heath, and ancient stunted Snow gums, signalling the transition of the seasons, not to mention the quality skiing of the spring corn.

We are tiny amongst the massive mountain range

Soon the clouds rolled back in and we quickly took shelter in the Epoch. Savannah was straight into Mont’s Flashpoint pants and jacket, looking and feeling as warm as ever.

With the clouds and darkness approaching, we cooked up a dinner of pad thai with fresh veggies and devoured our meals nearly as quickly as the fog had eaten up the mountains around us. Darkness invaded the horizon after a subpar sunset and we retired to our sleeping bags.


A hot meal always lifts the mood


I’ve been a long time user of many Mont products, but I was astounded to see the advancements in the Spindrift XT sleeping bag, including a small plastic tab that runs along the zipper so it doesn’t get caught, a folded over section at the top of the bag that lets you breath easy but can be unfolded to cover most of your face, and a large enough hood and cinch cord to fit a small inflatable pillow.

All this led to Savannah claiming it was the warmest sleep she’d ever had whilst winter camping.

Even with a warm sleep, the sound of rain could still be heard overnight and with the temperatures lowering it quickly turned the outside to an icy wonderland.

Day 2 – Carruthers Peak to Charlotte Pass

Distance: 6km
Duration: 3 hours

Around 5:30am we woke up, eager to see if the fog had lifted. We poked our heads out and were treated to the ultimate scene.

The view across to Victoria was hidden beneath a sea of clouds with The Sentinel and the rest of the Main Range poking out above.

The tent held up against the snow and winter winds

However, any thoughts of the skiing that lay ahead were dashed as the clouds quickly rose up into the alpine, surrounding us with fog.

Persisting for a few hours but with no change in sight after breakfast, we decided to head back home. We packed up all our gear and headed back up to the fog on an icy surface.

Shortly, we were back on the peak of Caruthers with the sun starting to peek through. Thoughts of skiing down to Club Lake entered our minds but were quickly shot down by the icy conditions and the weight of our overnight packs.

Although it may not have the excitement value of The Western Faces, the ski back down to the Snowy River put a smile on both our faces and was a great ending to such an up and down trip.


The careful journey back down the mountain


We crossed the river in our ski boots, they only leaked slightly, and made our way back up the hill towards Charlotte Pass.

After experiencing all kinds of weather over the last two days, we were glad that we had the right equipment to handle it and felt lucky to be able to spend time in the mountains together.

Tips for Visiting The Western Faces

  • Be prepared for sudden weather/temperature/visibility changes
  • Whiteouts are very common in the alpine environment so be well versed in your navigation and GPS
  • Practice ascending and descending smaller icy slopes plus self arresting before heading to the steeper Western Faces
  • Leave your ego at the door, the conditions and the weather dictate what you ski


The mountains can be unforgiving

Skiing the Western Faces FAQs

Where are the Western Faces located?

The Western Faces are located within the southern part of the Kosciuszko National Park in NSW. The small area is called the Main Range and has all of Australia’s ten highest peaks within it. It’s also home to some of Australia’s steepest skiable terrain.

How do you get to the Western Faces?

The Western Faces can be accessed from the trailheads of Guthega, Dead Horse Gap or from the top of Thredbo. These trailheads are located within an hour’s drive from the town of Jindabyne which is five hours south by car from Sydney.

When are the Western Faces open for skiing?

Generally the Western Faces can be skied from early June through to late October, although you may be able to ski there earlier or later in the year depending on snow levels.

Are the Western Faces good for beginners?

Definitely not. The Western Faces require advanced skills of skiing/boarding, navigation, and fitness. Build up your skills on smaller tours first and slowly progress to these faces.

Can you drive up the Western Faces?

The Western Faces can only be accessed by foot from the trailheads. No machinery is permitted to access this pristine environment, so ski touring, split boarding or snowshoes are your only means of transport.

How high are the Western Faces?

Most of The Western Faces peaks are over 2,000m tall, with Kosciuszko being 2,228m and ski descents of over 500 vertical metres are not uncommon.